“It’s not all young drivers in hot hatches": Sabre insurance reveals plans for £213m float

 
Oliver Gill
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Around 3m UK drivers are snubbed by major UK insurers, Sabre said (Source: Getty)

Quirky British car insurer Sabre today announced plans to raise £213m from a London stock market listing.

The move will enable private equity firm BC Partners to realise part of its investment into the Dorking-based firm.

BC, which paid £240m in 2013 for the firm, will retain a “significant stake” in Sabre post-float.

Sabre specialises in writing policies for “non-standard” drivers – those unable to source policies from major insurers.

“It’s not all young drivers in hot hatches,” chief executive Geoff Carter told City A.M..

We do insure young drivers in hot hatches, but it’s not just that.

Carter said many of Sabre’s customers have “a quirky feature that means major insurers are more nervous about providing prices to them”.

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Boost

The chunky float is a boost to the London Stock Exchange, which has seen both telecoms giant Arqiva and humous firm Bakkavor pull recent high-profile listings. Bakkavor subsequently reversed its decision on Friday.

The plans also come as motor insurers brace themselves for a potential hike in insurance premium tax by chancellor Philip Hammond in next week’s budget.

Carter said: “Insurance premium tax hits the whole industry. What choice do customers have? They either pay the increased premium or they drive uninsured, and not many people are going to choose to drive uninsured.”

Sabre said it has the lowest combined average – the ratio of costs and claims to premiums written – in the UK private motor insurance sector over the last 10 years. Over the period it has averaged 74.2 per cent compared with a market average of 111 per cent.

The firm is targeting the 3m UK drivers – around 10 per cent of the market – that are shunned by major insurers.

Launched in 1982, Sabre was bought by General Accident in 1996. In 2002, Keith Morris and Angus Ball led a management buyout from Aviva, which had earlier subsumed General Accident.

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Behind the deal – with Sabre chief exec Geoff Carter

Who advised?

Barclays and Numis are acting as joint global co-ordinators, joint bookrunners and joint sponsors for the IPO. Berenberg and Peel Hunt are co-lead managers and Evercore is acting as the company’s financial adviser.

“We brought several analysts down to Dorking," said Carter. "We’ve had the occasional coachload of advisers, analysts and investors actually.”

How long?

Carter admitted said the whole process had been done "very quickly".

Sabre started mulling its options this time last year and appointed advisers just four months ago.

Adviser friction?

“I have been amazed that I haven’t seen more friction [between advisers] actually," said Carter.

“There were plenty of late nights.

“It was quite interesting taking a small Dorking-based insurer to New York. Talking about this tiny insurer you’ve never heard of and seeing the interest from some of the funds in the US."

Cutting in staff

The float enables Sabre to reward its 150-strong workforce with an "opportunity to cut our staff in on the share ownership".

Carter said: “It is not the first place you’d think to put an insurance company. But we have a really nice work/life balance here and staff just don’t leave us.

“If you live in Dorking you can’t miss the building. If you don’t live in Dorking there’s very good chance you’ve never heard of us."

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